Simlipal National Park (Odia: ଶିମିଳିପାଳ ଜାତୀୟ ଉଦ୍ୟାନ) is a national park and a tiger reserve in the Mayurbhanj district in the Indian state of Odisha. It is part of the Similipal-Kuldiha-Hadgarh Elephant Reserve popularly known as Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve, which includes three protected areas — Similipal Tiger Reserve (2750.00 km2), Hadgarh Wildlife Sanctuary (191.06 km2) and Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary (272.75 km2)).Simlipal National Park derives its name from the abundance of semul (red silk cotton trees) that bloom abundantly here.Palpala River near Lulung, Similipal National Park. The park has a protected area of 845.70 square kilometres (326.53 sq mi) and has some beautiful waterfalls like Joranda and Barehipani. Simlipal is home to 99 royal Bengal tigers and 432 wild elephants. Besides Simlipal is famous for gaurs (Indian bison), chausingha, as well as an
orchidarium. One can enter Similipal through Pithabata (22 kilometres (14 mi) from Baripada) and 98 km via Jashipur. Entry permits can be obtained from the Range Officer, Pithabata check gate upon paying prescribed fees. Day visitors can enter between 6 AM and 12 noon and visitors with reservation between 6 AM and 9 AM. Similipal National Park is open from 1 October to 15 June. This reserve is part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves since 2009.
History: Simlipal elephant reserve originated mainly as a hunting ground for the royalty. It was formally designated a tiger reserve in 1956 and under Project Tiger in May 1973. “Mugger Crocodile Scheme” was started in 1979 at Ramatirtha, Jashipur.The Government of Odisha declared Simlipal as a wildlife sanctuary in 1979 with an area of 2,200 square kilometres (850 sq mi). Later in 1980, the state government proposed 303 square kilometres (117 sq mi) of the sanctuary as a national park. Further in 1986, area of the national park was increased to 845.70 square kilometres (326.53 sq mi). Government of India declared Simlipal as a biosphere reserve in 1994. UNESCO added this national park to its list of Biosphere Reserves in May 2009. There are 10,000 people living in 61 villages in the forest. That is why Simlipal is yet to be declared a full-fledged park, despite its having the status of one of the 18 biospheres of India.
Geography and climate: The park is in the Mayurbhanj district in the Indian state of Odisha. Simlipal Elephant Reserve is an ecosystem complete with forest vegetation (mainly sal trees), fauna and the adjoining Santhal tribal settlements. The park has an area of 2,750 square kilometres (1,060 sq mi). The average elevation is 559.31 metres (1,835.0 ft). However, the Similipal area is undulating, rising from 600 metres (2,000 ft) to 1,500 metres (4,900 ft). The high hills surround Meghasani, the highest peak in the park. At an altitude of 1,165 metres (3,822 ft), followed by Khairiburu at above 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) elevation. At least 12 rivers cut across the plain area. The prominent among them are Budhabalanga, Palpala Bhandan, Kharkai River and Deo. This sprawling forest has many waterfalls such as Joranda 181 metres (594 ft) and
Barheipani that are a perpetual attraction, the later at an elevation of 217 metres (712 ft)gives a panoramic view of the park. It has withstood two cyclones in 1982 and 1999 without any prominent damages. Summers are very hot with temperatures around 40 °C (104 °F) whereas the temperature during winter months can be as low as 14 °C (57 °F). The rainfall ranges from moderate to heavy.
How to Reach: Road — Baripada, the district headquarters of Mayurbhanj, on the junction of NH 5 and 6, is 250 km from Bhubaneswar, 200 km from Kolkata and 60 km from Balasore and 22 km from Pithabata, which is an entry point. The other entry point, Jashipur, is 94 km from Baripada on
N.H. 6. Both places are well connected by regular bus services. Taxis and jeeps are available.
Rail — Nearest railheads are Baripada, Balasore, TataNagar (Jamshedpur) and Kharagpur.
Air — Nearest airports are Bhubaneswar, Kolkata, Jamshedpur and Ranchi.